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The President’s Budget: Simplifying Funding for Postsecondary Education

May 23, 2017 - 4:00pm

“Go forth into the world and turn your hopes and dreams into action. America has always been the land of dreams because America is a nation of true believers.” – President Trump, Liberty University 2017 Commencement


In today’s world, one important key to success – one way for more Americans to turn their dreams into action – is to gain the postsecondary education and credentials that careers and employers require.

Millions of students and families want to make this investment in their future, but the college marketplace and student loan financing can be confusing.

That’s why the President’s 2018 budget proposal lays out plans to streamline and simplify federal aid, saving taxpayers $143 billion over the next decade while insulating current borrowers from changes to their loan programs. The proposed changes in repayment and loan forgiveness plans will apply only to new borrowers after July 1, 2018. Those who are currently repaying loans or who continue their current course of study can still count on their current repayment and loan forgiveness programs remaining in place.

Some of the highlights of the new proposal:

  • Replacing five different income driven repayment plans with a single plan. The new consolidated repayment plan will help undergraduate borrowers pay back their loans more quickly. However, current borrowers’ plans would not be affected as the changes apply only to new borrowers after July 1, 2018.

  • Providing Year-Round Pell and increasing available Pell aid by $16.3 billion over 10 years. The President’s request maintains discretionary funding for Pell grants at its current level, and reinstates the availability of year-round Pell funding, all while safeguarding the financial future of the Pell Grant program. As Secretary DeVos has said, this commonsense solution will enable more students to further their educations without taking on additional debt.

  • Helping low-income, first-generation and other disadvantaged students prepare for and complete college. With over $808 million for the Federal TRIO Programs and $219 million for GEAR UP, the budget yields savings of $193 million from the current year’s actual funding levels and reduces funding in areas that have failed to demonstrate an impact in improving student outcomes, while providing important support for vulnerable college hopefuls.

  • Investing $492 million in colleges and universities that serve diverse students. The funds will support the nation’s Historically Black Colleges and Universities, Minority-Serving Institutions, and Hispanic-Serving Institutions through programs under Titles III and V of the Higher Education Act. These programs help narrow gaps in enrollment and degree attainment by improving the academic programs, institutional capacity and student support services at colleges and universities that serve students of color and low-income students in high numbers.

By taking these and other steps, the Trump Administration’s budget aims to help more students and families afford the quality college education that can turn their dreams into action and their talents into success.

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Categories: Higher Education News

The President’s Budget: Maintaining Support for our Most Vulnerable Students

May 23, 2017 - 2:00pm

We must never lose sight of our mission: providing each child with the chance to pursue a great education in a safe and nurturing environment.” – Secretary Betsy DeVos, March 20, 2017


President Trump believes that every student – regardless of background or circumstance – deserves to fulfill his or her potential. High-quality educational opportunities are critical when it comes to achieving that goal, especially for our most vulnerable students and communities.

That’s why the President prioritized protecting students from traditionally underserved groups in his 2018 Budget, especially by providing consistent, level funding of:

  • $14.9 billion for the core Title I Grants to Local Education Agencies (LEAs), which will support state and local efforts to ensure students in high-poverty schools have access to rigorous coursework and teaching. Title I Grants impact more than 25 million students, as the Trump Administration works toward helping all students meet challenging state academic standards.

  • $12.7 billion for the Individuals with Disabilities Education Act, which will maintain funding for support services that help America’s 6.8 million children with disabilities. In addition to highlighting best practices in educating students with disabilities – like the MI Hidden Talent initiative – Secretary DeVos has highlighted the importance of empowering “families with the supports they need in the learning environments that best suit their children’s individual needs.” This funding will help states in their ongoing work to design and implement improvement efforts under the Department’s Results Driven Accountability Framework.

  • $736 million for the English Language Acquisition program, which will implement effective language instruction educational programs that help students attain English Language proficiency.

The Budget also includes $492 million for Historically Black Colleges and Universities (HBCU), Minority-Serving (MSI), and Hispanic-Serving Institutions (HSI) through the Higher Education Act under Titles III and V. Secretary DeVos has recognized these institutions for their continued efforts to ensure all students have access to a world-class education. Through this investment, the Trump Administration hopes that more of tomorrow’s teachers, doctors, judges, engineers and other professionals will emerge from HBCUs, MSIs, and HSIs.

In today’s 21st century economy, we can’t afford to waste even one day in building American’s talent and potential. The FY 2018 budget will protect the nation’s most valuable asset – its people – by making good on its commitment to all students, with additional help for the most vulnerable.

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Categories: Higher Education News

The President’s Budget: Empowering Parents by Expanding Education Choice

May 23, 2017 - 12:00pm

“Our nation’s commitment is to provide a quality education to every child to serve the public, common good. Accordingly, we must shift the paradigm to think of education funding as investments made in individual children, not in institutions or buildings.”– Secretary Betsy DeVos, March 29, 2017


From the beginning, the Trump Administration’s number one education priority has been to help ensure every student in America has an equal opportunity for a great education. Realizing that vision begins with giving parents more control and greater options. The President takes significant steps toward that goal with his 2018 budget, restoring decision-making power back to parents and state and local leaders – those who are closest to individual students and best equipped to address the unique challenges these students face every day.

Specifically, the budget supports the expansion of education choice and refocuses the Department’s funding priorities by making the following investments:

  • $1 billion increase for new Furthering Options for Children to Unlock Success (FOCUS) grants. FOCUS funds are new dollars to support making sure each student, especially low-income students, has access to a public education that meets his or her needs. These funds are tied to the student, making sure the investment is made in him or her as an individual, not in a building or system.

  • $250 million increase for private school choice. Increased funds for the Education Innovation and Research (EIR) program, a competitive award for applicants to provide scholarships for students from low-income families to attend the private school of their parents’ choice.

  • $167 million increase for public school choice. Increased funds for the Charter Schools program to strengthen State efforts to start new charter schools or expand and replicate existing high-performing charter schools, while providing up to $100 million to meet the growing demand for charter school facilities.

This expansion of parental choice will especially benefit our most underserved communities, whose students are often trapped in schools that fail to meet their needs. By empowering these parents with choices, they’ll be able to choose an educational environment for their kids where they can grow and thrive.

State and local leaders know the individual students and their communities. Yet onerous regulations passed down from the federal government to state leaders have hindered rather than promoted student success. By removing these barriers, America’s students will be better prepared to bring about a new era of creativity and ingenuity to thrive in the 21st century.

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Categories: Higher Education News

Police Week: Appreciating Our Peace Officers and the Role of Career and Technical Education

May 19, 2017 - 9:38am


President John F. Kennedy, in 1962, proclaimed May 15 as Peace Officers Memorial Day and the week in which it falls as Police Week.

In 2017, the U.S. Department of Education (ED) is proud to once again celebrate Police Week and to especially thank the police who help keep schools safe. In addition, ED recognizes the important role that career and technical education (CTE) plays in preparing people for a law enforcement career.

CTE, which is led in ED by the Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education, is a program that combines technical and academic knowledge. Today’s – and tomorrow’s – law enforcement professional must know physics, mathematics and computer science as well as technical problem-solving.

And just as our laws protect the structure of our society, CTE is a cornerstone for preparing the people who will enforce these laws. Police officer, correctional officer, information security specialist, rescue worker and immigration and customs inspector are among the high-demand careers in our nation’s high school and college CTE programs.

Officer Xavier Leake of Washington, D.C.’s Metropolitan Police Department knows the value of combining technical and academic education first-hand through the district’s Cadet program. “Being in the Cadet program helped me get the knowledge and field experience I needed to be successful,” Leake said. “I learned policy and procedure, but I also learned how to develop as a good person and a great officer.”

High school CTE programs have grown in popularity for young people who want to follow in the path of Officer Leake and his law enforcement colleagues throughout the country. In high school CTE programs, student participation in law, public safety and security courses has increased at a nearly double-digit rate, from 99,041 students in 2014 to 108,776 in 2015. At the college level, student participation in these programs has remained steady between 2014 and 2015 at just over 182,000. These high school and college programs, taken together, represent the third-largest career category (behind health care and business) chosen by students participating in CTE programs.

States also have tools and resources to help individuals prepare for, and advance, in law enforcement careers. For example, Washington state offers Career Bridge, an award-winning website featuring over 6,500 of the state’s education programs, state labor-market data, a career quiz for students to assess their interests, and, when data are available, performance results for thousands of education programs – including participation, completion, entry into the workforce and earnings.

CTE educators look forward to continuing to play a role behind the scenes in preparing law enforcement professionals for their careers. And this week, the people of ED express deep gratitude to all police officers as they step up to serve, protect, and defend us all.

Kim R. Ford is a Deputy Assistant Secretary in the Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education.

Joe Barison is a public affairs specialist in ED’s Office of Communications and Outreach.

Photo at the top is the White House illuminated blue in honor of Police Officers Memorial Day and Police Week.

The post Police Week: Appreciating Our Peace Officers and the Role of Career and Technical Education appeared first on ED.gov Blog.

Categories: Higher Education News

Staff Selfies with Secretary DeVos

May 15, 2017 - 10:10am

As new Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos has been settling in to her new job, she has been meeting ED career staff and learning about their contributions to the agency.  Several quick-fingered staffers have snapped fun, informal photos and selfies with ED’s new leader, and Inside ED has collected several of their smiling photos here.

Carolyn Dempster of the Office of the Chief Financial Officer shows off her one-handed selfie skills with DeVos.


Gerardo Romero of Federal Student Aid (FSA) smiles with the Secretary.

ED’s interns have gotten in photos with DeVos, including Trent Allen of the Office of Postsecondary Education (OPE).


Lawrence Lanwehr (shaking hands) and Keith Wilson of FSA were pleased to greet DeVos on her tour of Union Center Plaza.


Jason Cottrell of OPE got to show off his University of Virginia tie in his photo with the secretary.


This group photo features (L-R) Jennifer Myers of the Office of Management (OM), Wanda Davis of OM, C.J. Hair-Jones of OM, Karolyn Cook, the secretary, Joshua Hoover of the Office of Communications and Outreach, and Denise Carter of OM.


OM’s Myers also snapped a one-on-one photo with DeVos.


Christopher McCormick of OPE (in orange tie at left) got to chat with the secretary with quite a crowd looking on!


FSA’s Farzad Aidun matched smiles with DeVos at UCP.

Jim Mould (left) and Cynthia Dorfman (second from left) of OCO, along with other LBJ-based employees, greet the secretary on the fifth floor.


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Categories: Higher Education News

Important Information about the IRS Data Retrieval Tool

May 12, 2017 - 9:09am

The IRS Data Retrieval Tool (DRT) on fafsa.gov and StudentLoans.gov will be unavailable until extra security protections can be added. While we are working to resolve these issues as quickly as possible, students, families, and borrowers should plan for the tool to be offline until the start of the next FAFSA season.

In the interim, please continue to complete the FAFSA or apply for income-driven repayment by manually providing your tax information.

Here’s what you should know:

1. You can still submit the FAFSA online at fafsa.gov.
  • You will need to manually provide your 2015 tax information in order to complete the FAFSA.
  • DO NOT use 2016 tax information. We recently changed the FAFSA process and now require earlier tax information. For more information: StudentAid.gov/fafsa-changes.
  • If your financial situation has changed since 2015, you should complete the FAFSA using the information it requires (2015 tax info), then contact your school’s financial aid office to discuss your circumstances. The financial aid office can make updates to your FAFSA information if appropriate.
  • If you don’t have a copy of your 2015 tax return, access the tax software you used to prepare the return or contact your tax preparer to obtain a copy.
  • If you still can’t access your return, you can get a summary of a previously filed tax return, called a tax transcript, at irs.gov/transcript.

If you are using your 2015 income tax return to manually enter information on your FAFSA, the FAFSA instructions provide guidance on which line number to reference depending on the IRS tax form you filed. That information is also provided in the table below. For more specific guidance on each item, visit fafsa.gov/help.htm. If you’re using a tax transcript, there won’t be line numbers to reference, so read each question carefully.

2015 Income Tax Item 1040 1040A 1040EZ Adjusted gross income (AGI) Line 37 Line 21 Line 4 Income tax Line 56 minus line 46 Line 28 minus line 36 Line 10 Exemptions 6d 6d See details. Wages earned from working Line 7*

*Unless you are self-employed. See details. Line 7 Line 1 Education credits Line 50 Line 33 N/A IRA deductions and payments to self-employed SEP, SIMPLE, Keogh, and other qualified plans Line 28 + Line 32 Line 17 N/A Tax-exempt interest income Line 8b Line 8b N/A Untaxed portions of IRA distributions Line 15a minus line 15b

Exclude rollovers Line 11a minus line 11b

Exclude rollovers N/A Untaxed portions of pensions Line 16a minus line 16b

Exclude rollovers Line 12a minus line 12b

Exclude rollovers N/A Untaxed portions of health savings accounts Line 25 N/A N/A Form W-2 Item Boxes Payments to tax-deferred pension and retirement savings plans Boxes 12a through 12d, codes D, E, F, G, H and S

Don’t include amounts reported in code DD (employer contributions toward employee health benefits) 2. You can still apply for and recertify your income-driven payments on StudentLoans.gov.

  • While the IRS Data Retrieval Tool is unavailable, there is an additional step you may need to take to apply for or recertify your income-driven payments.
  • After you complete and submit the online income-driven repayment application on StudentLoans.gov, you’ll be instructed to submit income documentation to your federal loan servicer.
  • Valid income documentation may include a copy of your tax return, copies of pay stubs, or other acceptable forms of documentation explained online in the application process.
  • The easiest way to submit documentation to your servicer is to log in to your servicer’s website and upload the documentation in your online account.
  • If you need to recertify your income-driven payments, start the process early! Your servicer will inform you of your recertification deadline. Make sure you submit any documentation required by that deadline. If you don’t, your payments will increase, often significantly.
Frequently Asked Questions:

When will the IRS Data Retrieval Tool be available?

Students, families, and borrowers should plan for the IRS Data Retrieval Tool to be offline until the start of the next FAFSA season.

Do not wait until the tool is available to fill out your FAFSA; you can enter your tax information manually on fafsa.gov. Do not wait to apply for an income-driven repayment plan, or recertify your income-driven payments; you can provide documentation of your tax information in place of using the IRS Data Retrieval Tool.


What if I don’t have a copy of my 2015 tax return?

If you don’t have a copy of your 2015 tax return, access the tax software you used to prepare the return or contact your tax preparer to obtain a copy.

If you still can’t access your return, you can get a summary of a previously filed tax return, called a tax transcript, at www.irs.gov/transcript. If you’re applying for or recertifying for an income-driven repayment plan, you can use your transcript as documentation of your income.


Will my FAFSA deadline be extended?

You need to ask your school’s financial aid office how they will handle upcoming deadlines.

That said, the IRS Data Retrieval Tool being down does not prevent you from filling out the FAFSA. Regardless of how your school decides to handle any upcoming FAFSA deadlines, we highly recommend submitting your FAFSA as soon as possible to avoid financial aid issues and delays.


Will my deadline to recertify my income-driven repayment plan be extended?

No. You should still recertify your income-driven repayment plan by the deadline listed in communications you receive from your federal student loan servicer. We recommend starting the process as soon as you get your recertification notice to avoid any issues.

Contact your servicer if you have questions or need help. If you need to locate contact information for your servicer, visit StudentAid.gov/login.

Nicole Callahan is a Digital Engagement Strategist at the U.S. Department of Education’s office of Federal Student Aid.

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Categories: Higher Education News

3 Tips for Understanding and Comparing Financial Aid Offers

May 10, 2017 - 8:30am

Congratulations! You’ve been accepted to multiple schools. Now you need to determine which schools are most affordable so you can factor school cost into your decision. If you listed a school on your Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) form and have been offered admission by that school, the school’s financial aid office will send you a financial aid offer. The amounts and types of aid you’re offered will likely vary from school to school, so it’s important to compare your financial aid offers. Here are a few tips and resources to make understanding and comparing your financial aid offers easier.

1. Know the different types of aid

The financial aid offer includes the types and amounts of aid you may receive from federal, state, private, and school sources. Types of aid include free money that does not have to be paid back (grants and scholarships), money you borrow and must pay back with interest (loans), and money you can earn working a part-time job to help pay for education expenses (work-study). You may see any combination of these types of aid in your financial aid offer. Learn more about the different types of aid. If you’re curious, you can also learn how schools calculate the amounts of aid they offer you.

2. Understand each school’s net cost

Net cost is an estimate of the actual cost that you and your family need to pay in a given year to cover education expenses for you to attend a particular school. It is calculated by taking the school’s cost of attendance and subtracting any grants and scholarships you’ve been awarded. The net cost is the amount you will have to pay out of pocket. The net cost is the dollar amount you’ll want to compare across different schools to determine which school is most affordable.

Thousands of schools use the Financial Aid Shopping Sheet to present financial aid offers. But, some schools use a different format to present financial aid offers, making it difficult to compare net costs across schools. To help with this, the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) developed an interactive comparison tool to help you compare your financial aid offers.

3. Make sure you can cover the net cost

Because the net cost is the amount of money you’ll have to pay out of pocket, it is important to make sure that you have resources to cover the net cost. Scholarships, earnings from work-study or a part-time job, personal savings, gifts, and loans are resources you can use to help cover the net cost.

While loans can help cover your net cost, you should borrow only what you need. You don’t have to accept all of the loans you’re offered—and you don’t have to accept the full amount of any particular loan.

You may also be interested in 7 options to consider if you didn’t receive enough financial aid.

Things to remember when understanding and comparing your financial aid offers:
  • There are different types of aid—grants, scholarships, loans, and work-study.
  • The amounts and types of aid you’re offered may vary from school to school.
  • Calculate your net cost by subtracting the grants and scholarships you’ve been awarded from the school’s cost of attendance.

Mia Johnson is a Management and Program Analyst for the U.S. Department of Education’s office of Federal Student Aid.

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Categories: Higher Education News

8 Things to Do After You Fill Out the FAFSA® Form

May 8, 2017 - 8:30am

So, you’ve completed the 2017–18 Free Application for Federal Student Aid (FAFSA®) form. It’s time to sit back and wait for your financial aid offers, right? Not quite. In fact, there’s still plenty to do! Here are 8 things you need to do AFTER you submit your application.


1. Find your Expected Family Contribution (EFC)

Your EFC is a measure of your family’s financial strength and is calculated according to a formula established by law. If your application is complete, your EFC will display in the upper right-hand corner of your Student Aid Report (SAR). If your application is incomplete, your SAR will not include an EFC, but it will tell you what you need to do to resolve any issues.

To understand how the EFC is used, review the following formula, which is what schools use to determine your federal student aid eligibility and your financial aid offer:

Cost of Attendance (COA) – Expected Family Contribution (EFC) = Financial need

Schools then do their best to meet your financial need (not your full cost of attendance), but some schools are able to cover more than others.

Learn how aid is calculated.

2. Double-check with the schools you listed on your FAFSA form

Be sure to follow up with the financial aid offices at the schools you applied to. Sometimes schools need additional paperwork or have other internal deadlines. By not following up, you could be leaving money on the table!

3. Make corrections or updates if you need to

It’s important to make sure that all of your FAFSA data is correct and complete. Most information can’t be updated because it must reflect your situation as of the day you originally signed your application, but there are certain items that must be updated if they change.

Many people make a correction to their FAFSA form because they want to add or remove a school. If you found another school that you’d like to make your FAFSA information available to, log in to fafsa.gov and add that school to your list. Remember, you can list 10 schools at a time. If you’re applying to more than 10 schools, follow these instructions.

Find out how to make changes to your FAFSA information.

4. Keep prospective schools aware of any major changes to your family’s financial situation

You’ve already submitted your 2017–18 FAFSA form so you know that you had to report income from 2015. If your family’s situation has changed in a major way since then, you can request a professional judgment review from your school. Contact the financial aid office at the school you plan to attend if your family has any other special circumstances that affect your financial situation.

5. Apply for scholarships

Some schools are not able to meet every student’s financial need; therefore, there may be a gap between what the school offers you and what the school costs. Scholarships are a great way to fill this gap because they’re gifts—meaning they don’t need to be repaid!

Find and apply for as many scholarships as you can. You’ll probably have a lot of time between when you submit your FAFSA form and when you start receiving aid offers. Aim to apply for at least one scholarship a week. There are thousands of them, offered by schools, employers, individuals, private companies, nonprofits, communities, religious groups, and professional and social organizations, so you have no excuse not to apply.

6. Compare school aid offers

You can follow these steps to determine which school will be most affordable.

  1. Find the COA for your program on the aid offer. If a school doesn’t list the COA on the aid offer, contact their financial aid office. Be sure that amount includes direct expenses (tuition and fees) as well as other costs such as living expenses, books and supplies, and transportation.
  2. Subtract any grant and scholarship amounts from the COA. The number you’re left with is your out-of-pocket, or net, cost.
  3. Compare the net costs for schools you are considering.

Your aid offer might include student loans, so it’s very important that you compare the amount of debt you’d be taking on at each school. This comparison tool offered by the Consumer Financial Protection Bureau can help you compare the aid offers you received.

7. Consider what aid to accept
  • The rule is: free money first (scholarships and grants), then earned money (work-study), and then borrowed money (federal student loans).
  • If you need to borrow money, figure out which loans offer you the best terms. Remember, it’s perfectly okay to accept less loan money than a school offers. Borrow only what you need.
8. Figure out how you’ll fill your financial aid gap

We’ve already touched on applying for scholarships, but there are other options to consider if you didn’t receive enough financial aid. Be sure to contact your school’s financial aid office. They can help you assess your options.

Nick Dvorscak is a Management and Program Analyst for Federal Student Aid.

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Categories: Higher Education News

National Reentry Week: Our Visit to SCI-Pine Grove’s College in Prison Classroom

May 4, 2017 - 8:30am

“Education Is the Most Powerful Weapon Which You Can Use to Change the World” — Nelson Mandela

National Reentry Week was April 23-29, during which Pennsylvania Department of Corrections leadership visited a program that history very well may judge has the most effective intervention yet at reducing the likelihood of future crimes being committed by individuals coming through our system.  It’s a program that’s been changing lives since its inception – a program that many of us have completed.  This program is called a college education.

Pennsylvania is fortunate to have four such programs operating in prisons across the state.  On Tuesday, I was joined by the President of the Indiana University of Pennsylvania (IUP) Dr. Michael Driscoll at State Correctional Institution Pine Grove, where we were honored to sit in on a college class.

The class was facilitated by IUP faculty member Dr. Randy Martin and we both witnessed and interacted with the students who are participating in the criminal justice 101 class.  I want to acknowledge the leadership of Pine Grove Superintendent Eric Bush and his team, in particular, for their commitment to making this important program successful.

We experienced a learning environment with engaged and inquisitive students seeking knowledge beyond the book.  Dr. Martin shared that the writing submission assignments of the inmate students were more reflective of graduate level work than that of college freshmen.

Perhaps the most impactful moment was when we asked for feedback and advice about this program from the students.  The first words spoken were sincere gratitude for the opportunity, and the simple fact that they were judged “worthy”, in their words, to participate, changed how they thought of themselves.

The students also expressed that learning gave them the hunger to know and achieve more and a belief that they have options.  Hope abounded at last.

We left the classroom shaking the outreached hands of every student inside that prison in the middle of Pennsylvania, buoyed by the experience and resolute in the need to continue providing transformative educational experiences inside prisons. This perhaps is our best chance to reduce recidivism and allow individuals leaving our system to do so with a real chance for a different lifestyle, and as more prepared human beings than when they entered.


John E. Wetzel is the Commonwealth of Pennsylvania’s Secretary of Corrections.

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Categories: Higher Education News

Cleveland’s Project Lead the Way Is Making a Real World Impact

May 2, 2017 - 8:30am

In the coming decades students will join a workforce that is creative and innovative; many of them will use computers and technology to solve real-world problems. Students will need to be equipped with the skills and knowledge to help them take risks, collaborate and devise solutions—proficiencies they need for college and careers.

Recognizing the importance of developing these tools for life, the open enrollment Cleveland Metropolitan Public School (CMSD) District, led by CEO (Superintendent) Eric Gordon, gives students in eight District high schools the opportunity to participate in Project Lead the Way (PLTW). PLTW, a program from a nonprofit organization that provides transformative learning experiences for students and teachers, was highlighted by U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos as “a great example of how [local education agencies] are leveraging federal, state and local funds to best serve children.”

Students in Project Lead the Way are excited about their studies because the classes are mainly immersive learning experiences. While they explore topics like 3-D printing and modeling, robotics, coding, digital electronics and building design, they often break into small groups and create models, construct and test machines or build robots that let them see the importance of working together and thinking critically to solve real-world problems. Projects expose them to the importance of creativity and innovation— in-demand skills they need for jobs of the future, some that have yet to be created.

CMSD Career and Technical Education Director Annette Darby said that PLTW is considered to be an elective and takes four courses to fully complete the program.  “Superintendent Gordon wanted to deliberately focus on career and technical education because it’s emphasized in The Cleveland Plan,” she said. The Plan calls for broadening access to internships, apprenticeships, applied learning, and career tech programs and preparing students to enter the workforce as well as to enroll in college, and PLTW does just that.

The Project Lead the Way program is supported by several community partners who provide funding, field trips, scholarships and internships. Some of the partners include ArcelorMittal, Rockwell Automation, Junior National Society of Black Engineers, Cleveland Water Department, Regional Information Technology Engagement Board and General Motors. These companies see the need to educate young people and encourage careers in their businesses.

Recently, while following some students who had already graduated from the PLTW program (a requirement that the state applies to local schools that use Carl D. Perkins funding for CTE STEM classes), Darby became aware of a student who had graduated from the James Ford Rhodes High School’s certified PLTW program. The student was employed and recruited by a local engineering company that has offered to pay for him to take classes leading to a college degree in engineering.

“PLTW prepares students,” Darby said. “It is very much hands-on. Students can get scholarships, earn college credit; partnerships with businesses are so important.”

Some high schools’ PLTW programs receive certification, which provides students with the opportunity to apply for college credit or receive college-level recognition at PLTW affiliate universities. So far, two of the CMSD programs have certification – James Ford Rhodes and most recently East Tech High School.

This year, the Rhodes robotics team has advanced to the VEX Robotics World Championship in Louisville, KY. This competition, now entering its 10th year, will bring together the top 1,400 student-led robotics teams from around the world.

Students today need access to real-world, applied learning experiences. Thanks to PLTW students have more opportunities to become confident, independent thinkers, ready to excel in today’s economy.


Sherry Schweitzer is a communications specialist in ED’s Office of Communications and Outreach.

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Categories: Higher Education News

Together We Soar Higher; The U.S. Department of Education Receives a Gratitude Quilt by Children From Military Families

April 27, 2017 - 8:30am

“Together we soar higher.” This Ashland Elementary School motto set the tone for a recent ceremony at the U.S. Department of Education (ED) headquarters in Washington, D.C.

The occasion was to celebrate the Month of the Military Child and to accept the donation of two commemorative quilts to ED by the Military Child Education Coalition (MCEC) and three Prince William County Public Schools — Ashland, Henderson, and Pattie elementary schools. Attendees included student artists, counselors, and Ashland’s principal, as well as representatives from MCEC, military school liaisons, the Department of Defense Education Activity Educational Partnership Grant Program, and ED staff.

“This event is an enactment of ‘it takes a village,’” remarked Jackye Zimmermann, ED’s director of editorial policy, publications, and the Student Art Exhibit Program­­­, who opened the event. Thanks to a collaboration — of 54 student artists, parents, school counselors, principals, grant providers, ED staff, and others — ED’s lobby now features a reminder of the unique experiences and needs of military children. The teamwork involved in this project, Zimmermann noted, “represents the teamwork that takes place within the military community in behalf of the country and the world.”

Amanda Woodyard, MCEC student transition consultant, said the project “was intended to be a meaningful way for [students] to express themselves … their only instruction was to just say ‘thank you.’” Since participating students had parents either on active duty or deployed overseas, this project was important for bringing the students together to jointly express their emotions as military children.

Adenia Kitt discusses how she pieced together the quilts.

Students included Kaleb Eisenman, whose dad is deployed to Iraq, and Coco Bouchat, whose dad is deployed to South Korea. Each child wrote an individual thank you on a fabric square, and Adenia Kitt sewed the pieces together to create a quilt entitled “An Elementary Patriotic Thank You.” Another quilt sewn by Kitt, entitled “The We Serve Quilt,” features images of branches of the military. Woodyard offered these quilts as a donation to ED’s permanent art collection.

Principal Andy Jacks from Ashland Elementary School encouraged the audience to remember that every month is the month of military children because every day these kids “serve alongside their families” in their own way. The responsibility of his school, he says, is to provide a community of support for military children and their families, which it achieves through service projects such as this.

“School communities like Ashland, and others in Prince William County, are examples for the rest of the nation: They show how to best support our military students, which advances our military’s mission and our children’s education,” remarked Jason Botel, ED’s acting assistant secretary for elementary and secondary education, upon accepting the donation. On behalf of Secretary Betsy DeVos, Botel expressed his gratitude for the men and women who serve our nation, as well as for their families.

The Department, through its Military Affairs Team, will continue to work with the military community to address the educational needs of military children and help ease their transitions from one school to the next because, just as at Ashland, as a nation “together we can soar higher.”

Students from Ashland Elementary School write each other kind notes.

Before leaving the Department, students wrote kind notes to each other sitting at the foot of another piece of artwork, this one entitled “Kindness Tree: Sticks and Stones,” to further show the values at work in military communities. This piece was donated to ED by Mountain Laurel Montessori School and now sits next to the quilt exhibit.

The tree reminds those who pass by that kindness and teamwork are central to everyone’s work in education so that all students overcome obstacles and reach their potential. The Kindness Tree is also now in ED’s permanent art collection, providing ED employees and visitors the opportunity to write more notes of kindness.

Photo at the top shows Ashwood Elementary School students and faculty join Adenia Kitt (far right), military school liaisons, and MCEC and ED staff in front of the donated quilts.

Molly Howlett is an intern in the Office of Communications and Outreach at the U.S. Department of Education.

All photos are by U.S. Department of Education photographer Leslie Williams. More photos from the event may be viewed at https://www.flickr.com/photos/128781046@N08/sets/72157682765020795/with/33278963484/.

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Categories: Higher Education News

Learning for Life: Dual Enrollment in Florida is a Win for the State

April 25, 2017 - 8:30am

Getting the proverbial “jumpstart” on career success is beneficial to our nation’s students and serves as a great tool to explore interests. While there are numerous programs around the country, the state of Florida is a standout with a decades-long history of success with accelerated learning opportunities dating back to the 1970s.

Dual enrollment allows high school students an opportunity to take postsecondary courses and receive both high school and postsecondary credits.  Educators, students and parents laud the programs, which widen the path toward success.

Just in the last five years, about 60,000 students a year have benefited from the Florida Dual Enrollment program which was enacted by the Florida Education Finance Program.  According to the state’s education website, the program speeds up the way students can obtain associate degrees or industry certifications by taking postsecondary coursework while attending school. Many students have gone on directly to successful careers, while others have opted to continue their education in four-year institutions.

ED Secretary Betsy DeVos was impressed with the program’s success during a recent visit to Florida, noting a great example at Valencia College in Kissimmee. “The dual-enrollment and advanced manufacturing programs are creating impressive opportunities for students,” she emphasized.

While visiting the school, DeVos spoke with two aspiring doctors who said the dual enrollment program helped shorten the time they would need to spend attaining their goals. During a roundtable discussion another student told her that she will have almost completed her freshman year of college by the time she graduates from high school. Another said that participating in the program will help save her parents money for college tuition.

“We’ve seen an increasing number of students participate over the years,” said Todd Clark, director of the Office of Articulation. “Dual enrollment is something that schools get incentives for — financial incentives for teachers and accountability incentives for having students in acceleration programs. As the programs continue to grow, we look carefully at how we manage the program and closely monitor student outcomes.”

Clark says the program is growing because the schools are doing a good job spreading the word, and the program is successful, which is then spread by word of mouth. This translates into support from local taxpayers who see the value.

The program is offered to students from 6th grade through their senior year. “The challenge is to make sure that students take dual enrollment classes that will really help them, versus something that they are just interested in,” Clark said.

To be eligible for the dual enrollment program, a student must go to a Florida public, private or home school and not graduate prior to completing the course. For students pursuing the career option, a 2.0 GPA is required and for those planning to enroll in college credit courses, the requirement is a 3.0 GPA. There is no minimum GPA for home-schooled students. Students must also take a basic skills examination to participate.

There are hundreds of course offerings for students in virtually all career types, including public safety, clerical, technology, HVAC, media production, service industry, automotive, health sciences and more. Courses are offered year-round on the school campus, local career education centers and the local higher education sites. The dual enrollment classes, books and fees for the public postsecondary institutions are paid for by the school district and are free for students.

ED has research on the effectiveness of dual enrollment programs, which shows its value. Students and the public have attested to the value of the Florida Dual Enrollment Program and the choice it gives to students in pursuit of higher education.

Helen Littlejohn is a public affairs specialist in ED’s Office of Communications and Outreach.

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Categories: Higher Education News

Thelonious Monk Jazz Informance: A Lesson in Democracy

April 20, 2017 - 8:30am

The conception of a perfect democracy drove the recent musical performance by students when their peers from nine District of Columbia schools, parents, educators, and ED employees gathered at U.S. Department of Education (ED) headquarters to hear jazz – America’s gift to the world.

To celebrate Jazz Appreciation Month, ED hosted its fifth annual jazz informance—an informational performance—with the Thelonious Monk Institute of Jazz. A jazz ensemble composed of student musicians from the Baltimore School for the Arts and Duke Ellington School of the Arts joined nationally acclaimed recording artist, educator and jazz trumpeter Terell Stafford to perform at the event.

Julien Chang and Cole Summers from Baltimore School for the Arts and Darius Armstrong from Duke Ellington School of the Arts perform with Terell Stafford.

One value of a perfect democracy is innovation. Jazz is innovative because much of it is created “right before your eyes,” according to Phil Rosenfelt, ED’s acting general counsel and a recent jazz convert who introduced the informance.  What the audience hears “is never performed exactly the same way,” Rosenfelt explained, no matter how much the ensemble has rehearsed.  Instead, the composition begins and ends with predictable and identical measures of music — but in the middle section individual performers improvise, thus the half-blank piece of sheet music in the image below. Improvisation is another large-looming value of a democracy.

This uncertainty — this innovation through improvisation — is the most exciting aspect of playing jazz, according to many of its adherents. Thomas “Murphy” Hagerty, bass player from Duke Ellington School of the Arts, said that the reason he chose jazz from among all the art forms is that “you never really play the same thing twice. You never really know what you’re going to play until you’re on stage.” This takes courage, another value of a democracy.

J.B. Dyas teaches a lesson on jazz.

“The most important element [of jazz] is improvisation … it’s like a musical conversation,” J.B. Dyas reiterated. Dyas is the vice president for education and curriculum development at the Monk Institute, which aims to expand the community of jazz performers by bringing jazz masters and young musicians together.

Just like any conversation, Dyas said, jazz music requires “really listening to one another.” Therefore, while improvisation may make jazz exciting, community is what makes the sound beautiful. Everyone in the ensemble has a responsibility to each other to “make the sound work.” Moreover, he said, the audience has a role in what is produced musically in jazz, unlike in other forms of music where the audience is expected to remain silent. With jazz, the musicians hear and respond to the audience’s responses throughout a piece, which also changes the music. Democracy, after all, is a conversation, a work in progress.

Ekepenow Nkwelle from Duke Ellington School of the Arts gives a vocal performance of “In a Sentimental Mood” accompanied by Terell Stafford.

Dyas also said that, although jazz was born in America as an African-American art form, it is now played by people throughout the world on all seven continents. In this way, jazz is “America’s gift to the world”—a gift that, because of its innovative nature and the value it places on community, has resonated with so many.

“Each year, day, each minute, the family gets bigger and bigger and bigger and bigger.  I love that about this music,” Stafford shared.  “It’s about community, about love, about trust, about sharing.” About the informance, Stafford said that he was happy to have more family as a result of playing with all of the students on stage and receiving the audience’s responses.

Stafford and the student jazz ensemble performed Speedball by Lee Morgan to end the show, which received a standing ovation from all 250 audience members.

Photo at the top shows student musicians from Baltimore School for the Arts and Duke Ellington School of the Arts with Terell Stafford.

Molly Howlett is an intern in the Office of Communications and Outreach at the U.S. Department of Education.

All photos are by U.S. Department of Education photographer Paul Wood. More photos from the event may be viewed at https://www.flickr.com/photos/departmentofed/albums/72157682385599566.

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Categories: Higher Education News

Military Child Education Coalition and ED Celebrate a Military-Connected Vision for America’s Children

April 18, 2017 - 8:30am

“Being a military kid is a bit lonely. Your dad has to go away for a long time. But being apart makes us closer.” This is how third-grader Elena Banzon from Michael Anderson Elementary School in Spokane, Washington, describes her life as a military child.  When the Air Force calls her dad away, Elena says she gives her mom “so much love” because she knows it is the “best thing” one does for family.

Elena’s essay was honored at the recent opening of the Military Child Education Coalition (MCEC) Student Art and Writing Exhibit at U.S. Department of Education (ED) headquarters in Washington, D.C., where a ribbon-cutting ceremony was held to recognize the creative work of military-connected children.

This was the third MCEC exhibit opening at ED since the organization’s worldwide Call for the Arts program began in 2002. It has drawn thousands of participants who were inspired by their military experiences to create works reflecting a shared understanding of mobility, family separation, transition, resiliency, and service to one’s country.  This year’s opening drew students, parents, teachers, ED employees and veterans, and arts educators and advocates.

Maureen Dowling, director of ED’s Office of Nonpublic Education, where the Military Affairs Team resides, and a military child herself, described her family’s military experiences as a “catalyst for artistic creation and endeavors,” a benefit of separation.

Students who attended the opening also reflected on their challenges and opportunities in military-connected families.

Trace Lewis, a 12th-grader at Hayfield Secondary School (Hayfield) in Alexandria, Virginia, whose dad is in the Air Force, has moved multiple times. At the opening, Trace performed a passionate keyboard version of his composition “Jurassic.”  He explained that making music and films are ways for him to cope with his family’s many moves: “All of the films I made, they’re like memories. When I move to a new place, it is an opportunity to make new memories.”

Trace Lewis playing his original composition “Jurassic”

Madison Lewis, an 11th-grader at Hayfield and Trace’s sister, said the most difficult part of moving to new places is being unable to share memories with her classmates. These hardships led Madison to describe military children as “soldiers”— not because they possess the same “physical characteristics that soldiers have,” but because of the “sacrifices they make every day.”

Sommer Bauman, also an 11th-grader at Hayfield who sang the National Anthem at the opening, indicated that these sacrifices are so important because they are made “willingly and with a positive attitude.” This attitude is echoed in much of the artwork present in the exhibit, including in Kiersten Flach’s piece that portrays change as simply a part of her life — something to “live” and “love.”

Artwork by Kiersten Flach, Grade 11, Hohenfels High School
Hohenfels, Germany, U.S. Army

Brigadier General (Ret) Earl Simms, vice chairman and secretary of the MCEC Board of Directors, shared his own story of sacrifice, which demonstrated the need for flexibility. His family made 14 moves and his children attended countless schools, creating many academic and social challenges.

The audience also heard from students involved in MCEC’s Student to Student (S2S) program, which brings military and civilian kids together to welcome new classmates and ease their transitions.

One S2S civilian student at Hayfield, Nana Gyebi, talked about how her painful transition from Ghana to the U.S. inspired her involvement in this program.  “I never had the opportunity that S2S gives, so it makes me glad to help others go through the same thing I did,” she said. Madison Lewis, co-leader of S2S along with Nana, says that S2S helped her “cope with her family’s choice” to allow her father to be stationed in North Dakota while the rest of the family remained in Virginia. “S2S is like one big family,” Madison said, it helps students feel connected.

S2S students tell their story. Left to right: Madison Lewis, Nana Gyebi, and Sommer Bauman

The students’ discussion, writing, performances, and artwork communicate that being connected is what makes separation from their parents and previous homes possible. And they remind us that home is not one concrete location but can be wherever family and friends are.

Artwork by Blanca Cruz Montes, Grade 10, Ramey School
Aguadilla, Puerto Rico, U.S. Customs

The traditional ribbon-cutting ceremony, which has been a part of ED’s Student Art Exhibit Program for 13 years, officially opened the exhibit to the public, which will remain through April 2017.

Photo at the top: Students cut the ribbon on the “America’s Children” exhibit.

Molly Howlett is an intern in the Office of Communications and Outreach at the U.S. Department of Education.

All photos are by U.S. Department of Education photographer Paul Wood. More photos from the event may be viewed at https://www.flickr.com/photos/128781046@N08/albums/72157681000123125/.

The Department’s Student Art Exhibit Program provides students and teachers an opportunity to display creative work from the classroom in a highly public space that honors their work as an effective path to learning and knowledge for all. To visit the exhibits or for more information about exhibiting, contact Jackye Zimmermann at jacquelyn.zimmermann@ed.gov or visit https://www.ed.gov/student-art-exhibit/.

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Categories: Higher Education News

California’s Career Technical Education: The Best of Two Worlds

April 13, 2017 - 8:30am

There’s an old joke. A plumber goes to a house call to repair a leak. The plumber fixes the problem and tells the homeowner, “That will be $300.” The homeowner says, “I’m a doctor, and I don’t make $300 for a house call.” The plumber replies, “I didn’t make $300 for a house call, either, when I was a doctor.” Career technical education (CTE) is for real.

The key to CTE is the combination of technical and academic knowledge. In the 20th century, a boy or girl would be asked to choose between going to college or learning an occupational trade. After all, how much science did you have to know to manually weld machine parts or sew an apron? But today you have to know physics, mathematics, and technical problem-solving, just to repair your car or design a new fashion.

To address this need, the California Department of Education has 7th-through-12-grade standards for learning the basics of nearly 60 technical careers – from information technology and health care to construction, agriculture, hospitality and tourism, media and entertainment, business and finance, and more.

CTE 9th-grade STEAM pod student works on a paper sketch and 3D model as part of character design in the games unit. The process involves both paper and digital models. (Photo courtesy of Palisades Charter High School)

Ross Arnold knows California CTE from the ground up. He is a former executive director of the California Association for Career and Technical Education.

Arnold said, “The best way to think of [CTE’s importance] is…one out of every eight Americans lives in California. We produce more students out of our high schools and colleges than any other state. Unless we have an educated, well-prepared populace, we’ll lose our industries to other states – maybe to other countries.”

Unlike today’s professionalized CTE, Arnold said that decades ago, “The shop classes didn’t lead to careers. They led more to hobbies.”

Arnold, a CTE teacher, added that, recently, in his own classroom, “I had to show that there was a growing demand for [CTE] jobs…if I didn’t show at least a seven-percent increase in demand for these jobs, we dropped the class.”

California has a host of schools with exceptional CTE programs. One of these schools is Palisades Charter High School in Los Angeles. Donna Mandosa, the school’s technology director, teaches a CTE class in the STEAM (science, technology, engineering, arts and mathematics) “pod,” a term used in the spirit of the school’s dolphin mascot.

Students adjust the gear mechanism as they make a go-kart from reclaimed parts for a CTE “20% Time/Genius Hour” project. (Photo courtesy of Palisades Charter High School)

Mandosa holds a master’s degree from Harvard University in technology and education and has 15 years of experience managing information technology teams. In California, a CTE certification requires both academic and industry experience.

In her CTE class, Mandosa explained, “Our 9th-graders do a bit of virtual reality, a bit of game design, and a bit of 3-D modeling and printing. We also do ‘Genius Hour’ projects, in which the students come up with a study proposal within STEAM engineering concepts. So there’s an entrepreneurship/start-up vibe to it.”

Recalling one student’s success, Mandosa said, “When Tre, a junior, came to Palisades, we did not have a game-design class. Tre started teaching other students so they could do this fun thing on campus. He was part of the team that helped launch a game-design class. Tre has said he wants to go into game design as a career.”

The bottom line for Mandosa is “CTE gives students real-world experience,” which translates into industry credibility. “It makes sure they have a seat at the table.”

Photo at the top: Palisades Charter HS CTE students test walk-on-water (WOW) shoes that they made using engineering and chemistry. They later tested the WOW shoes in the school pool. (Photo courtesy of Palisades Charter High School)

Joe Barison is a public affairs specialist in ED’s Office of Communications and Outreach.

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Categories: Higher Education News

Principals at ED: Educator Voices Matter

April 11, 2017 - 8:30am

Last week, I had the unique opportunity of being invited back to the U.S. Department of Education for “Principals at ED,” along with ten other principals.  We spent the day at the Department, fondly known as “ED,” meeting with Secretary Betsy DeVos, interacting with senior career leaders, including former interim Secretary Phil Rosenfelt and Acting Deputy Secretary Joe Conaty, and learning from policy and communications staff.

I was honored to serve as the Principal Ambassador Fellow in 2015-16. Now, as a principal, I again face the day-to-day realities of the students who keep me up at night and the overwhelming task of ensuring that all of our children succeed. The ability to take a step back and look at education from “3,000 feet high” helps ground the day-to-day work in which all school leaders are engaged.

Last year, when I interfaced with other educators, many of them didn’t think their voices mattered. Yet when they saw that folks were listening, it made a huge difference. Principals shared how they returned from their time at ED reinvigorated and ready to tackle the hard work ahead of them.

Here I am, a year later, back in the role of a principal visiting the U.S. Department of Education. To be honest, I was nervous about returning to meet with the new leadership. I will say upfront that I don’t always see eye-to- eye with the Secretary on many stances, but she listened to what we had to say. We are all here to educate our nation’s children. This is why we all do this work. The fact that ED once again opened its doors to us signaled that the leadership is willing to listen to educators and that they value the experience and perspective we bring. This gives me hope.

During this day, we advocated for the importance of teacher and principal mentoring and professional development. We shared what we thought was the best way to invest in schools. We found common ground and had varied opinions. I am grateful that ED opened its doors to principals. I hope these doors remain open, and we can continue to dialogue.

Ultimately, educators are the “silver bullets”—the problem solvers—who can powerfully address today’s challenges in education, as my colleague Sharif El Mekki shared. But we aren’t born silver bullets; we need to be supported and strengthened, and when the investment and support are there, we can make all the difference in a child’s future.

My advice to ED is: continue to talk to these problem solvers. Find out what makes teachers and principals shine and what makes them effective. Then take those ideas and put them to work.

Alicia Pérez-Katz is the Principal at Baruch College Campus High School and was a Principal Ambassador Fellow at the US Department of Education, 2015-16

More photos from the event may be viewed at https://www.flickr.com/photos/departmentofed/albums/72157682166397025

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Categories: Higher Education News

Secretary DeVos Joins Ivanka Trump, Astronaut in Women’s History Month Celebration at Smithsonian Air & Space Museum

April 6, 2017 - 8:30am

The Oscar-nominated movie Hidden Figures chronicles the inspiring story of three brilliant African American women mathematicians who, despite the barriers put in their way, played a pivotal role in one of our nation’s greatest achievements. These “human computers” performed by hand the complex mathematical calculations required to put a man into orbit around the Earth.

To commemorate Women’s History Month, the Smithsonian National Air & Space Museum (NASM) hosted U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos, Ivanka Trump, Astronaut Kay Hire, women from NASA and more than 400 local students at an event celebrating STEM (Science, Technology, Engineering and Math) that culminated in a viewing of the film.

The students, from a number of D.C., Maryland and Virginia schools, were treated to exhibits celebrating space exploration, motivational presentations and, of course, the movie.

NASM “Explainer” Rae Stewart tells her story.

Astronaut Hire greeted the students at the Living and Working in Space exhibit, describing the day-to-day life of living and working in low earth orbit. The schoolchildren also visited exhibits on Black Holes and Moon Rocks, where NASM “explainers” discussed museum artifacts.

In the auditorium, the adults were inspired by the students’ knowledge and enthusiasm for learning and eager to share their own inspirational stories.

NASM Aerospace Educator Dr. Barb Gruber told the students, “I want to instill in you that learning never stops.” NASM John and Adrienne Mars Director John R. Dailey challenged the students to imagine what great milestones they could achieve.

Explainer Rae Stewart noted that even those artifacts in the museum that appeared small and unremarkable “may have helped change history.”

The physics and astrophysics major also advised them, “Don’t listen to those voices who tell you you can’t…You can do it and we believe in you.”

Trump hailed the accomplishments of trailblazing women in STEM, such as the heroes in the movie, and looked to the assembled students to forge even greater paths in the future. “I can only imagine where we’re going to be in another 50 years,” she declared.

Secretary DeVos addresses the students with Astronaut Kay Hire to her right.

Secretary DeVos described her awe and pride at witnessing the first moon landing – another landmark event in the Apollo program on which the women in the movie worked as well as in our nation’s, and the world’s, history. She encouraged the schoolchildren: “It doesn’t matter whether you’re a boy or a girl, whether you’re black or white, you can be great at whatever you do, so long as you believe in yourself, you work hard, and you stay true to your convictions.”

“We’ve been sending people into space the same way for more than 50 years,” Astronaut Hire declared, adding these students would be the ones NASA would be looking to for “some new ideas.” She described the International Space Station, which she helped build, as “a glorious monument to what we can do when we work together in these STEM fields.” The Secretary praised Hire as “someone who personifies trailblazing women.”

The students were also treated to a panel of women working in STEM for NASA. Sandra A. Cauffman, Andrea I. Razzaghi and Aprille Ericsson described their experiences and the hard work and persistence that allowed them to overcome their own sets of obstacles.

The heroes in Hidden Figures “opened so many doors,” as Stewart put it. For today’s students, with a STEM education and hard work, the sky’s the limit!


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Categories: Higher Education News

Full STEAM Ahead: ED Celebrates African American Excellence in STEAM Fields

April 4, 2017 - 8:29am

“I have always liked math and science because, as a child, I struggled with reading. But … I close my eyes and can see the world in numbers.” This is what Kennea Carter, a student from D.C.’s E. L. Haynes Public Charter School, shared with the audience at the Full STEAM Ahead: Educational Summit on Science, Technology, Engineering, Arts, and Mathematics held at the U.S. Department of Education’s (ED’s) headquarters. This summit, hosted by the White House Initiative on Educational Excellence for African Americans, brought students and STEAM leaders together to celebrate African American excellence in STEAM fields and to help students learn how to enter them.

As a part of the celebration, Carter and her robotics team thrilled the audience with a demonstration of their robot’s ability to perform tasks. When asked how they became a team, the students said it was their robotics teacher, Shane Donovan, who told them about the opportunity and encouraged them to get involved. The Haynes pre-K through 12th-grade school was named after the first African-American woman to receive a doctorate in mathematics.

The summit also featured a panel of prominent African-American women leaders in STEAM fields: Joletta Patrick, manager of the Minority University Research and Education Program at the National Aeronautics and Space Administration (NASA); Tiera Guinn, senior at Massachusetts Institute of Technology and rocket structural design engineer for the Space Launch System at NASA; Korin Reid, senior data scientist at McKesson Health Solutions; and Janett Martinez, chief executive officer at Loomia. They shared their experiences in school and in their respective industries, answering students’ questions about choosing a particular STEAM field. Like Carter and her teammates, each panelist had teachers, parents, or mentors who significantly impacted their development and interest in their chosen fields.

STEAM panelists Joletta Patrick, Korin Reid, Janett Martinez, and Tiera Guinn

The panelists also had personal advice for the youths. For example, “Be prepared to be twice as good as your peers” and “Create a community of people who look like you to help navigate the obstacles and doubters.” The students, they asserted, must take steps to create their own success stories. This part of the program was very well received, with one audience member saying “You have just set free so many people here with your stories” and another commenting “This is one of the most amazing networking experiences for students we’ve had at the Department of Education.”

Kim Ford, deputy assistant secretary in the Office of Career, Technical, and Adult Education, called on educators, advocates, and ED staff to continue to support students as they pursue their dreams for their life’s work and ensure that they know about all the options available to them within STEAM.

U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos closed the program with a message of encouragement. Having earlier in the day addressed a group of schoolchildren at a screening of the film “Hidden Figures,” which  tells the story of the extraordinary African-American female mathematicians at NASA who helped launch the astronaut John Glenn into orbit, Secretary DeVos invoked the heroes of the story to inspire the students to succeed.

Secretary DeVos and students from St. Augustine Catholic School

Photo at the top: E.L. Haynes Public Charter and DC International schools’ robotics team

Molly Howlett is an intern in the Office of Communications and Outreach at the U.S. Department of Education.

All photos are by U.S. Department of Education photographer Paul Wood.  More photos from the event may be viewed at https://www.flickr.com/photos/departmentofed/albums/72157678556202214.

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Categories: Higher Education News